In recent years there have been striking increases in the frequency and severity of conflicts between many species of wildlife and humans throughout all of the United States. The nature of such ranges from property damage to human injuries and an alarming number of fatalities. The time is long overdue for those federal and state agencies legally delegated the responsibility for the management of wildlife to conduct the necessary, scientifically sound analyses of problems and then adopt effective corrective measures. Far too long these agencies have turned their backs on the most critical issues, choosing to devote their time to programs which the wildlife profession has foisted on the general public by appealing to their emotions.
Major changes in the program direction and resulting public attitudes appeared to surface about the time of the birth of Earth Day in 1970. It should be noted that some of the founders of this event were considered subversive and thus were monitored by the FBI. Shortly thereafter funds became available for non-game wildlife species programs. Major changes occurred in the makeup and emphasis of agencies previously devoted to species that were subjected to hunting, fishing, or trapping. There was no question that non-game had been neglected, but what has evolved can justifiably be categorized as monstrosities. Two such monsters are the Endangered Species Act and wetlands legislation, coupled with resulting programs.
Along with all this there was a very noticeable increase in groups that took advantage of the opportunity to become self-appointed saviors of the Planet Earth. The most radical of these was Earth First, whose stated goal was the rewilding of 50 percent of the United States. Many other groups, some quite noble and prestigious, including the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Wilderness Society, and National Audubon Society, got on the bandwagon and evolved into what is now known as the Environmental Movement. All are well-heeled, practice bad science, and play on the emotions of a believing public. There is no question that all their efforts are very well orchestrated and extremely effective. Unfortunately, the malaise is contagious and has spread throughout the once noble wildlife profession, including their Wildlife Society. For example, most of the states bought into the Nature Conservancy's Natural Heritage Program in the 1990's. It was supposed to be a two-year contract, but, lo and behold, some Conservancy people are still in the employ of state agencies. Undoubtedly a well planned invasion.
There appears to be strange bedfellow relationships with many of the above organizations and groups dedicated to anti-hunting and animal rights. These interests are dedicated to the elimination of hunting and can have a disastrous effect on the ability to control species such as the white-tailed deer. Well-regulated firearm hunting is essential for keeping numbers in balance with range carrying capacity and, even more importantly, keeping them wild. In respect to animal rights, who bestowed these rights on wildlife species and do they truly deserve them? The assumption of responsibilities should be a prerequisite. Are wild animals responsible? Viewed from a distance this might be the case. The wild world may seem to be a model of harmony and tranquility. On a closer examination it is very apparent that the jungles are inhabited by very irresponsible beings. Other than a certain degree of maternal instinct, there is little concern for the well being of others and their personal belongings, murder is a fact of life, thievery is rampart, while assault and battery is commonplace. Mother Nature can be extremely cruel.
Speaking of rights, how about property rights? The majority of the land in the United States is privately owned by human beings. The people of our country should thank the landowners for providing habitat to support such a wealth of wild creatures and, more often than not, permitting people to enter on their properties to appreciate these inhabitants. On the other hand, wildlife does not have to own land, pay taxes, comply with all sorts of regulations, and legally they do not have the right to vote. In addition, big brother should make sure that landowners are not harassed and abused. And all parties must accept the fact that the Environmental Movement's concern is somewhere way out in the wings.
Earlier it was mentioned that state and federal agencies must direct their attention to true problems and needs and adopt appropriate programs. Legal mandates must be well spelled out. The State of New York has been fortunate in this respect. The law vests in its Environmental Conservation Department the efficient management of fish and wildlife resources of the State. It is directed to develop and carry out programs and procedures which will promote natural propagation and maintenance of desirable species in ecological balance. It will further be the policy of the State to foster, promote, create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can thrive in harmony. Regard is directed to the compatibility of producing and harvesting wildlife with other necessary and desirable land uses. The mandate is very clear and if it were adhered to it would be a simple matter to determine program direction. Unfortunately, there are those who do not bother to read the law or choose to ignore it.
Such was the case with the fate of New York's deer management program, which traditionally had been considered one of the finest in the nation, back in 1990. Refinements were continually made to insure that all legal mandates were met. The individual who had been Big Game Unit Leader for twelve years was removed from his position with little in the way of explanation. Obviously there was a desire to throw discipline out the window. It does appear that associates of the Environmental Movement, whose main goal is power and control over people's lives, with concern over the environment somewhere out in the wings, had something to do with it. A small group of concerned individuals planned to bring suit against the Department for law violations, but this never came to pass.
Needless to say, the white-tailed deer is one of the major culprits in respect to conflicts between wildlife and humans damage to agricultural crops, damage to forest regeneration and natural vegetation, and vehicle accidents, with significant numbers of human fatalities. The white-tail plays a major role in the creation of wild cities, suburb zoos, and rural atrocities. To provide the reader with a better idea of the nature of conflicts between wildlife and man a selection of incidents, from the last 40 or so years to the present will be offered. This will be a small sample of thousands and thousands of atrocities that resulted from the mismanagement of our precious wildlife resources.
Hopefully these accounts will have the desired effect.
July 17, 2006